Thursday, April 28, 2011

French Fry Diary 221: Elevation Burger, Moorestown Mall NJ

As I've mentioned before, I get a lot of recommendations for French fries to review. Some, like Whataburger and In-N-Out Burger, are just too far away for me to get to. Some, I have just been waiting for them to open a restaurant nearby - such is the case with Elevation Burger at the Moorestown Mall. I was so excited when I saw they were coming, I even made a blog entry of just the 'coming soon' sign.

Finally, finally after many delays, Elevation Burger finally opened just before Groundhog's Day this year. I was there the day after that. They were a bit slow, and there were more folks behind the counter than in the seating area, but that was just fine. I've been there several times since and things have definitely picked up.

The first excursion I got my regular - plain burger, fries and a soda. The soda selection, fountain style, also offered Mr. Pibbs Xtra and Wild Bill's Root Beer, besides the regular run of Coca-Cola products. Always nice to have new stuff to try, so I tried the root beer and then went back to my normal Coke selection. I'm a catastrophically picky eater, remember?

The ordering is similar to the new Gino's and the meal is brought to your table. It came on a unique metal tray, with the burger in a paper sleeve and a sizable serving of fries, all steaming hot. The fries were fresh cut natural cut shoestrings that didn't seem quite done and needed seasoning. The burger was delicious, also needing a bit of seasoning so I put some fries on it and it rocked.

The customer service at Elevation Burger this first trip and all following trips was top notch. The first time, five different employees asked how my meal was as I ate, and they seemed genuinely concerned. It's the little things that count, ya know?

The fries are supposed to have been cooked in olive oil, and while I don't doubt that, they didn't have the usual taste other Spanish fries I've tried have had. The Elevation fries had a cleaner, less greasy (if at all) taste. Still they needed an extra kick.

Now these weren't great fries, but the burger was fantastic so I had to go back. Addict that I am, I also got fries too - because not-so-good fries are better than no fries at all. Now here's the problem, and the reason this review has taken so long to be posted - I have been conflicted. The fries on trip two were amazing. Further visits proved only one thing, Elevation Burger's fries are at best inconsistent. Sometimes they are meh, and sometimes they are terrific. This much is sure, the longer they cook, the better they are. So a blurry decision from me on the fries but a definite thumbs up on the burgers.

All things considered, the burgers, the fries, the absolutely incredible shakes, and the customer service - I really really like Elevation Burger. Highly recommended when the fries are done right.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

French Fry Diary 220: Bob Evans 2011

"Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Fries: lightly battered and fried, our miniature apple pie fries are dusted with powdered sugar and served with our very own caramel dipping sauce." Mmmm… and only $3.99. This is what the table foldee said that teased us this last visit to Bob Evans for breakfast in Maryland. Maybe we'll get them next time. They sound very good, and very decadent, and far too much after a big breakfast. Oh well, if nothing else, it's a reason to come back to Bob Evans.

As usual when in MD visiting the in-laws, we hit Bob Evans for breakfast, and I've reviewed their home fries before, but this time, the bro-in-law, knowing of my potatoey obsession, hipped me to Bob's new hash browns. So of course, I had to try them.

They were better than standard shredded hash browns, but I ordered them well done. The bro did as well, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to get those orders right. Just goes to show you, I guess. They were better than average, needed some seasoning, but still good. Next time, I'll definitely go back to home fries though... and I'll also save room for those apple pie fries too...

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Monday, April 25, 2011

French Fry Diary 219: The Brooklyn Diner

Here's another installment of Somebody Else's Fries from The Bride. She recently attended a conference in fabulous New York City and as always, when dining where French fries were around, she pulled out her iPhone and snapped those fries.

The Brooklyn Diner is at Times Square and outside has all the shine and glitz of the city that never sleeps, but inside it's just a diner - a good diner a step above most, but looking like a standard Jersey diner.

The fries she had were very good, natural cuts typical of diners, but with an extra kick. From the picture I can see there's rosemary in there, but maybe a few other mystery herbs as well. The Bride said it was busy and the waitress didn't come by much so she couldn't ask. Can any regulars to the Brooklyn Diner let us know?

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

French Fry Diary 218: Passover Surprise

I attended Pesach the other night with The Bride's family. This was actually a big deal as I'm not Jewish, and The Bride was out of town. However I married into a wonderful loving family so they brought the goy along to share in the holiday. I love these folks a lot. Sometimes they even put up with my Christmas tree and Easter egg silliness.

The big surprise, and the reason I'm talking about this here, was finding French fries on the table. Just for the record, for those who don't know, the favorite fried food is not standard operating procedure for Passover, even though they were kosher. Suddenly amidst some strange and exotic foods (yes, even after almost two decades) was a plate of familiar fried friends.
These fries were natural cut Russet potato wedges, tossed in olive oil, seasoned and baked - all courtesy of a family friend who's also a wonderful cook. They were crisp on the outside and soft and hot on the inside - the perfect combination for any fry. They were great, and for this naive goyim boy - no offense to the cook, the brisket, the gefilte fish, or the terrific company - they were the best thing on the table.

Thank you and Happy Pesach!

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

French Fry Diary 217: Kelsey's Irish Pub, Ellicott City MD

We took a weekend away and met friends for a late dinner. When I heard that the place we were going was an Irish Pub, I got my notebook and cameraphone ready for a French Fry Diary review, as Irish Pubs notoriously have the bestest chips this side of Ireland, or at least this side of Cookes of Dublin or the British Chip Shop.

We were there on a busy late Saturday night and sat in the restaurant area. The bar area was hopping with live entertainment but where we were seated was fairly quiet - next to a beautiful fireplace with ESPN on a widescreen over it. The place had lots of Irish flavor, lots of wood, lots of green, Irish music playing overhead, a wide variety of beers - all in all, Kelsey's Irish Pub, in appearance and atmosphere, is very Irish Pub.

The first thing I noticed when perusing the menu was a notable lack of chips. French fries were listed and even at times called frites, but no chips. I was determined however, and ordered the fries. There was something called the Saint Joe Fry Tower on the menu that came with cheese, bacon bits, sour cream, old bay seasoning and gravy - but none of us were brave enough to get it.

When the favorite fried food did arrive, I have to admit disappointment. These were thin-sliced natural cut steak fries, similar to the new sea salt fries at Wendy's actually, but with a disturbing batter covering, yep, you guessed it - Invisicoat. They were also deep fried, and they tasted like they were as well. If they had salt, pepper or any other type of seasoning, it was deep fried out of them. To bottom it all out, they had a warmed-under-a-heat-lamp vibe as well, and that's not a good thing.

The fries looked good, despite not being chips, but they were epic fail on so many levels. Still, it was a nice night out with friends, good times, if not good food.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Anne Burrell Makes Fish and Chips

We've talked about Chef Anne Burrell before, specifically where she rocked her fingerling home fries. That was just one of the many cool recipes she does that include some variation of the favorite fried food, here's another:

Fish and Chips

Recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 2 to 4 servings

• 3 quarts peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
• 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch wide sticks
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons seafood seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• Kosher salt
• 1 bottle cold beer

2 pounds haddock fillets, skinned and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch wide strips, 5 to 6 inches long.

Heat the oil in a large deep, pot over medium heat. Bring the oil to 325 degrees F. Regulate the temperature with a candy thermometer. Keep the potato sticks in a bowl of water to prevent browning before frying. Remove to paper towels and dry well before placing in oil. Working in batches, fry the potatoes until they are cooked through and tender but have no color, about 4 to 5 minutes. Be sure the fries have plenty of room and gently swish them around as they are cooking. Remove them from the oil and put them immediately on a paper towel lined baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and raise the temperature of the cooking oil to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, seafood seasoning, baking soda and pinch of salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and gently stir in the cold beer. Mix until just combined. When the oil is preheated to the correct temperature, dip the fish fillets in the batter mixture. Coat the fish generously. When adding the fish to the oil, dip about 1/3 to 1/2 of the fillet into the oil and allow the batter to start puffing and then gently slide it into the oil. Fry the fish until they are golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes turning the fish over during the cooking time. When the fish are done, remove from the oil and put immediately on paper towels to blot the excess oil. Arrange the fish on a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack. Hold the fish in the preheated oven until serving. Work in batches and be sure not to crowd the oil.

Again, working in batches, fry the fries a second time at 375 degrees F, until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove them from the oil, immediately put them on paper towels and toss with kosher salt. Transfer the fish to a serving platter and serve with the fries.

Arthur Treacher would be proud!

You can find the full recipe here at the Food Network website. It appeared on the "The Secret to Fish and Chips" episode of "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef."

Maybe next Food Network Friday, we'll feature another of Anne's great recipes!

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